As I was going through some of my old writing, I found an article I wrote in December 2002 for the Muslim Link newspaper. It was about Du’aa, specifically the du’aas made by children in the month of Ramadan. At the time I was teaching in Al-Huda School in College Park, Maryland, and a short story that I narrated at the end of the piece made me really miss my days teaching there. I had forgotten this story, and I include it below as it is a touching reminder:
…an experience with a group of first grade girls may illustrate the intensely personal nature of du’aa. As I sat with a group of these students, I asked them to raise their hands and silently ask Allah for something. We then went around the circle and each person shared what they made du’aa for. Each shared their du’aas, but when we reached to one child, she simply sat quietly and shook her head from side to side. “Would you like to share your du’aa with us?” Again, a silent “no” as her head slowly turned right to left. “Well, even though we didn’t get to hear your du’aa, do you think Allah heard it?” This time, her head indicated a “yes” as a smile came over her face. Not wanting to push her, I let her know that it was perfectly okay to keep her du’aa private, but that she could feel free to share it with me alone if she felt comfortable. After I dismissed the girls to their seats to write down their du’aas, the child came up to me, alone. Perhaps now she would share her du’aa with me, I thought. Yet she had something else in mind. Slowly and deliberately, trying hard to get each letter out correctly, she said: “Jazaakumullaahu khairan.” May Allah reward you with goodness… For what, I wondered?
“Wa iyyaaki,” I responded, shaking her small hand. And to you too. At that instant, I realized that she was thanking me for understanding her own need to speak to Allah alone; to tell Him a personal request, knowing that it would be kept private between herself and Allah, and trusting that in this blessed month of Ramadan, it would surely be accepted.